Color palette is an important part of a movie making process. Without a doubt, there are many non verbal elements that help a viewer to feel the mood of a movie, like costumes, scenery, soundtracks and others. For example, rainy weather enhances character’s sad mood, meanwhile, spring usually symbolizes a fresh start.
Color palettes, specially created for sets and costume designs, help to emphasize character’s personality, whether he\she is romantic, depressive, nostalgic, positive e etc. Harmony or contrast between costumes and scenery helps to pass on the idea of how character feels.
As an example, I’ve prepared a list with some beautiful movies, which prove am importance of color palette.
Russian movie, released in 2008. Title Stilyagi can be translated as hipsters, but it´s not 100% correct. Musical comedy shows how a life in Moscow was back in 1955, after its leader’s death, but before Nikita Khrushchev’s famous speech. Within this context had emerged the first Soviet subculture, annoying most of population with attempts to copy and recreate an American lifestyle. This subculture was famous by listening and dancing jazz and rock and roll, dressing colorful and provocative clothes. Costumes of this movies made a huge success in Russia. After the premier there were organized 50s style parties all over the country.
Color palettes plays significant role in this movie. Vintage colors helped to recreate a retro mood of 1950s. Contrasts between colorful, American style costumes and gray Soviet uniforms highlights the imaginary division between two worlds that existed in Moscow at that time.
Unfortunately, there is no English translation, but it´s possible to find this movie with English subtitles on the You tube.
Batman vs. Superman
Movie, launched on March 2016, attracted millions of people all over the world, by showing an epic battle between two famous superheroes of DC Universe. Color palette of this movie helps to transmit an identity of two different cities and its superheroes.
It´s amazing how dark and gothic mood of Gotham City and Batman was communicated to the audience through shades of gray and dark blue, meanwhile shades of vintage yellow and brown showed a romantic and a bit nostalgic side of Superman and Metropolis. Warm colors turn Superman more “human”, who, unlike Batman, has a family and love in his life.
Skyfall, one of the best 007 movies, on my point of view, launched in 2012, was a third 007 movie with Daniel Craig, as a lead actor. Skyfall points out some current international problems, such as digital security, computers vs. human professionals and real value of human lives. Combination of desaturated cold and warm colors, changes, from scene to scene, the spirit of the movie, revealing two sides of the main character. Considering himself betrayed by the team, Jame Bond struggles between doing what is right and defending his own interests. Muted colors, dominated with shades of gray, appear not only in landscapes but also in costumes of the secret agent, emphasizing his gray = neutral position. Like a gray color, which is a mixture of white and black, 007 has both good and bad side.
Meanwhile main character is represented in dark colors, villain’s costumes consist of beige and earthy shades, which aren’t common for this type of character. This color choice can be explained, associating beige, almost an invisible color with 2010s threats, that are also invisible and unpredictable.
Besides showing struggle between good and bad, muted colors also bring vintage charm to the movie, revealing old-new relations, young vs aged, technology vs. human force.
Midnight in Paris
Released in 2011, movie Midnight in Paris tell a story about a writer Gil, who has been fascinated with 1920s decade and its great artists and writers, dreaming to become one of them. This movie completes a list of Woody Allen’s “yellow” movies. Representing Paris in warm yellow color, it emphasizes how charming and welcoming the city is. Moreover, yellow is known as a color of creativity. It combines perfectly with career of main character and his decision to change his life.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Launched in 2013, the movie tells about a life of simple men Walter Mitty. He is shy and dreamy, but work problems force him to show courage, revealing the desire for adventures.
Cold and fresh color palette, that consists of shades of green and blue, refreshes the mood of the audience. Watching this movie, gives you a desire to breath deeply and feel the fresh air of distant and curious places. Landscapes of Walter Mitty’s movie make you relax and motivate at the same time. Color palette helps to explore beautiful places that are rarely visited by tourists, like Greenland and Iceland.
The Great Gatsby
Released in 2013, a new version of a classic novel The Great Gatsby, shows one more time, how glamorous and scandalous was a lifestyle of New York´s elite during 1920s.
Retro color palette ingeniously interacts with glow, shine and fantasy, so common for a Baz Lurman movies. Summer heat is demonstrated through shades of pink and yellow, that make you sweat together with characters and helps to reveal intense feelings and discomfort. On the other side, late night parties are colored with electric shine, showing a glamorous and crazy for fun crowd of people. Contrasts of different color pallets makes you forget about time period and let you enjoy transitions of emotions and feelings.